Third-ranked College of Idaho had to put its celebration on hold after falling victim to Southern Oregon's most complete game of the season on Friday at Lithia Motors Pavilion.
On the penultimate night of the regular season, the Raiders stuck an 85-69 loss on the Yotes and knocked off an NAIA Top 25 opponent for the second game in a row. C of I (25-4 overall, 14-3 Cascade Conference) could have clinched a share of the CCC championship with a win, but instead will play a winner-take-all game at No. 10 Oregon Tech on Saturday.
The Raiders (19-9, 9-8) led for the final 28 minutes. They shot 54 percent from the field and assisted 24 of their 30 baskets. Jordan Hunt (18 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists), Tez Allen (15 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists) and Tristen Holmes (14 points, 6 assists) were the catalysts of a balanced offense.
SOU and Eastern Oregon will play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday for the No. 5 seed in the CCC Championships presented by U.S. Bank, which starts Wednesday with the quarterfinal round. A victory for the Raiders would also mean their sixth 20-win record in seven years.
In their fourth loss in five seasons at SOU, the Yotes' top scorers were held well below their averages as their starters combined to shoot just 9-of-27 and their bench accounted for 42 of the team's points.
The Raiders held the Yotes to 31-percent shooting and took a nine-point lead into halftime and were up 15 five minutes into the second. Their lead cut to 58-51 with 10 minutes left, Aaron Borich made a pair of free throws then knocked down a 3-pointer a few feet behind the line. After a defensive stop, Borich started a fast break that ended up with Hunt in the key, and he kicked to Allen for another triple that made it 66-53.
Borich finished with 10 points. The Raiders got nine more off the bench from Kaj Bansen, who shot 3-of-4 from 3.
C of I reserves Gibson Berryhill and Justin Saunders combined to hit seven triples, leading the Yotes with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
COLLEGE OF IDAHO 59, SOUTHERN OREGON 52: At Ashland, second-half shooting woes were too much for the Southern Oregon to overcome in a loss to College of Idaho at Lithia Motors Pavilion.
The Raiders (16-9 overall, 12-7 Cascade Conference) hit on just 19 percent of their attempts (7-of-36) in the third and fourth quarters, when the Yotes (15-12, 11-8) outscored them 37-23.
C of I's Alyssa Case went for 16 points and four assists, but the biggest buckets of the night came from freshman reserve Kaylee Krusemark, who hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored all 12 of her points after halftime. The team's leading scorer, Alyssa Case, was held to 2-of-7 shooting but pulled down 15 rebounds.
The Yotes had dropped their previous 13 matchups with SOU.
The Raiders can still clinch the No. 4 seed and homecourt advantage in Tuesday's quarterfinal round of the CCC Championships presented by U.S. Bank with a win Saturday against Eastern Oregon or a C of I loss at Oregon Tech.
They had their biggest lead at 34-26 when Dominique Harding finished at the rim two minutes into the third quarter but converted one bucket the rest of the period. Krusemark's 3-pointer put the Yotes up 41-38 going into the fourth.
Delaney Sparling's transition 3-pointer cut the C of I advantage to 52-51 with four minutes left before the Raiders misfired on their last 11 attempts to end the game. The Yotes scored their final seven points at the free-throw line.
Sparling led the Raiders with 11 points, going 3-of-6 from three, and Ariel Augustine and Daranda Hinkey scored nine apiece. Destinee Jones added 10 points and three steals, while Sophia Altemus had five points, seven rebounds, three steals and three assists off the bench.